The Survival Guide To Long Term Food Storage: Part 3
Naturally, you're going to need somewhere to store all this food, and large plastic containers that can be hermetically sealed are the best. However, you don't have to order these plastic containers by the hundred from your local supplier and pay thousands of dollars. If you need access to free plastic containers your local donut shop, pizzeria, or grocery store deli and bakery should be able to provide all your needs.
These types of food establishments receive a large percentage of the ingredients they utilize in their daily activities in large, food grade plastic containers which can readily be re-used. When they are empty, the managers of these businesses have to confront the expensive process of having dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of these perfectly good and totally re-usable plastic containers carted to the landfill or away for recycling.
The best way to proceed is to contact the manager of these places. Tell them you would appreciate any and all containers they are about to throw away. Meet them in person and hand them your name and phone number on an index card. Suggest they tape it by the phone. Assure them you'll pick them up on a regular basis. Then, keep your word. These establishments can get in big trouble if they have loads of dirty buckets sitting around, as health inspectors will crucify them.
You'll find that you will be able to obtain six gallon pails with lids from the donut store, one gallon glass and plastic jars with lids from the pizza shops and delis, and four gallon square plastic containers with lids from the bakeries. These items are all food grade so you certainly don't have to worry about any chemicals leaching out and contaminating your food.
Once you get the containers home make sure to scrub them energetically with hot, soapy water inside and out. Most labels will soak right off in hot water alone. A readily available product called GooGone will take the stickier labels off plastic buckets easily: Just squirt a little bit onto the label and let it soak. In a few minutes the label will lift off with a minimum of scraping. It is also a great idea to soak the containers after scrubbing with a little bleach to disinfect them both inside and out. Make sure to rinse thoroughly with lots of fresh running water as you certainly don't want the active ingredient in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, to come into contact with your food. After this, if any plastic containers retain a smell of their previous contents or even the bleach, fill them with crumbled newspapers sprinkled with baking soda and put the lid back on. Set these aside for a couple of weeks in a warm spot. Most times it takes the aroma clean out and leaves nothing but a neutral scent.
If you find that the managers at the local food establishments will supply these containers to you, don't forget to send them a note and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. Remember: You don't have to spend a lot of money on your extremely important food storage containers if you use your noggin.